The other day we were in office having a casual conversation on the social pressures of who did what on new years eve. A colleague told a hilarious story but since I am bound by confidentiality, even on the condition of anonymity, I shall restrain myself from going into the details.

However, what the conversation did do was give me a thought starter – money and socialising dynamics. Of what I have seen, whenever we go out with friends or colleagues the rule is always to split the tab equally.

As the social group gets bigger, the probability of individual calculation of what each owes keep falling whereas the unfairness of it keeps going higher. Click To Tweet

In my first organisation, one of the jokes told at every get-together was labelled the “Red Bull incident”. This happened a few years back with one of my colleagues, a fairly new joined the corporate world with the enthusiasm for office get-togethers still high. On one of the evenings of the get-together, he had another commitment. However, after wrapping that up he still joined his office folk. It was a fairly expensive place and everyone had a drink or two. However, this guy being a teetotaler stuck to a can of Red Bull. When the bill came it was evenly split with everyone’s share being Rs. 700 ($15 by the standards that time) whereas his can would have been priced at about 25{76b947d7ef5b3424fa3b69da76ad2c33c34408872c6cc7893e56cc055d3cd886} of that amount.

Personally, I have laughed at it myself but was it really fair?

In another instance, I was still new at a workplace and a colleague in our lunch group was leaving. I barely knew her, but thanks to her boyfriend who decided to gift her a kindle by making everyone else contribute I ended up shelling out Rs. 1000 ($16) {Office romances, I tell you}.

Then there was another time in a work group where one girl ate just a salad while everyone else went for a 3-course set meal. The bill was obviously split equally.

I could go on with more such examples, but I am sure you get the hint.

Honestly, I am not cheap as a person (or so I think) and neither am I anti-social. I enjoy going out with my friends and am happy to spend money until the time I see it as being fair or not going completely over my budget. I would rather have multliple budget outings with different people I am fond of than be forced to shell out money when I would rather not.

But when it crosses a line in your dictionary, how do handle it, without coming across as a cheapskate? While we have talked about managing money among couples, money in your social circles can be as important.

I thought a bit about it and some of the ways that made sense to me were:

1. Have a frank conversation

While this can not always work with colleagues, if you are going out with close friends be open about it. If you are finally looking to be frugal and save for the future (Halleluja!) your true friends will only be too willing to either join you or cheer you from the sidelines. I am grateful about the fact that I can easily count enough friends with whom I talk about it and go out without upsetting my budget.

2. Learn to say no
Do you know the most difficult word in English? Nope, it’s not Otorhinolaryngologist or it’s longer cousin pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

The most difficult word in the English language is NO. Click To Tweet

If you really do not want to go for a social outing, be it with friends or colleagues, for whatever reason, learn to say no. You can choose to either make an excuse to make it easier on yourself or go for brutal honestly. If you are not used to it, start by making legible excuses and if you cross the boundary of awkwardness go for the truth.

I have done that when I told my colleagues for an outing they were planning that I did not have the budget for it that month. I am assuming they like me ok enough to still be talking to me 🙂

3. Take the responsibility to plan
A sneaky little option but works pretty well – you don’t need to say no or have a serious conversation. You get to go out and not blow your budget. Take the responsibility of planning the outing (wherever you can), take out Zomato, don’t depend solely on their cost for 2, check the menu and finalize the place as per your budget.

It’s always better to look out for 2-3 options to give more of a choice to the other people but it still means you will not go way off budget.

4. Go for the company and not the food
Socialising is made up of 2 main components – the food & beverage which cost money and the more precious bit of the experience. Ask yourself what are you really going out for? If the experience and spending time matters more, eat ahead of going out.

Just announce to your group that you have eaten or are really full and are just there for the company. Not only do they realize that the friendship means something to you, the budget remains intact as nobody asks someone to pay up if they have not had anything.

However, the skill of saying no to food or drinks will again come handy here.
In India, a very easy option to not need to even utter the word no, is to say that you are fasting 😉

5. Make room in your budget

If your socialising budget is sacrosanct, make adjustments in some other controllable area

If you know that you will still end up going out and socializing with friends and colleagues, take a good guesstimate of how much would that cost you. Account for that in your budget and accordingly cut down in some other area of your life.

If you believe the cost of socializing is not under your control, cut down on some other area in your budget which might still be your controllable. Click To Tweet

6. Find new friends
Now for the extreme idea. I do not mean – find new friends in a bad way. However, check with yourself if you still enjoy the company. Check again as to what are you letting go just to pay for it. If all of it still makes sense, scratch out this option.

However, if you are going out just to not be called names like cheap or baniya (a caste in India traditionally looked upon as miserly) and end up not even enjoying the evening, maybe it’s time to revaluate your social circle.

Go for a meet up to gather wth others having a similar interest. Bond with people with similar financial values (easier said than done, I know). Or even better, find a hobby class and spend money on enriching yourself than on going out with nothing to show for it.

There are a lot many times when I have often worried more about the money I will end up spending at the end of the evening rather than enjoy it. I believe there might be more of you like me out there.

I hope you find some of these ideas useful. Let me know what you think in the comments or email me at

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